Naturalism's Spurious Aesthetics: Mimesis and Forgery in Alphonse Daudet's
Daudet, Alphonse ; Mimesis ; Naturalism ; Realism ; Forgery ; Fakes ; Académie Française ; Autographs ; Collecting ; Idealism
This article examines Alphonse Daudet's novel L'immortel , based on a notorious nineteenth-century forgery scandal, the Vrain-Lucas affair. It explores how Daudet uses the idea of the fake not only to frame a critique of a specific social formation (the milieu surrounding the Académie française, to which he had failed to secure election, and which is presented as a sclerotic, moribund institution), but also to articulate an attack on naturalism as practised by Zola and his acolytes. It argues that L'immortel can be read as an intervention in a long-running debate about the status of mimesis, a debate that received fresh impetus in the nineteenth century with the emergence of realism and naturalism. It suggests that Daudet's text reformulates the Platonic condemnation of mimesis to condemn naturalism as a degraded and aesthetically bankrupt form, belonging to the regime of the fake. At the same time, it promotes an alternative, Aristotelian conception of mimesis as an imaginative appropriation and transfiguration of the world.
Fait partie de:
Forum for Modern Language Studies, 2012, Vol. 48(1), pp.19-29
; 1471-6860 (E-ISSN)
; 10.1093/fmls/cqr036 (DOI)